“Sometimes something quite exceptional can happen when you’re least expecting it… Thank you. Encore. Encore.” – Jo Woodward
Thursday 8th and Friday 9th May saw something quite exceptional happen involving children from 6 Somerset schools, 6 Jackdaws Young Artists and a Rossini opera.
Jackdaws annual OperaPLUS project culminated two weeks of intense rehearsals and workshops with performances of “The Stylist of Somerset” (also known as Rossini’s Barber of Seville) at Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater and the Cheese & Grain, Frome with children singing as part of the opera performance.
Three schools were involved in each performance – Robert Blake, Elmwood and Penrose in Bridgwater and Critchill, Hayesdown and St John’s in Frome.
“All the children were fully engaged both as performers and as onlookers.” – Alan Burgess
In the two weeks preceding the shows, six Jackdaws Young Artists – all currently studying at one of the major British Music Conservatoires – led workshops with children at all six schools and Jack’s Music Club, working with the children on the part they would play and teaching the songs they later sang in the production.
The opera selected was Rossini’s opera buffa Barber of Seville, which was given a fresh and exciting spin and renamed “The Stylist of Somerset“. Based on popular TV talent shows, the evil Dr Bartolo was compared with a certain infamous judge with Rosina as his next star talent, Almaviva is a Pop star and, of course, Figaro is the best stylist in all of Somerset! Alan Burgess, headteacher of St John’s School who participated, said “Perhaps the greatest testimony of the production’s success was evidenced in the faces of everyone watching: they were enthralled from start to finish.”
The performance was enjoyed by performers, children, parents and teachers alike.
“I am sure that neither of our sons (our 10 year old was in the audience with us) would have chosen to watch an opera with us. But they, like us were gripped from the very start.” – Kelly Newton
2014 is the 5th year that the OperaPLUS project has taken place. Previous years have seen productions of The Magic Flute, La Cenerentola and Semele, each time involving schools as far afield as Dulverton and Bridgwater.
“As a parent I am feeling so very fortunate to have been able to share with my child in such an experience; as I felt so very much part of it as he did.” Charlotte Deniz Sanches
Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg addressed the audience immediately after the Frome performance, saying “It’s really very simple… Bring it to them and they love it.”
Read our introduction to the Stylist of Somerset.